Hardcore Prairie Punk: “Modern Fortune” from Kleins96

January 18, 2011 in Uncategorized by David Yazbeck

Regina a hotbed of hardcore punk?  However incredible that sounds, it never entered the minds of the folks at Harvest King Records, which has a fine stable of hardcore/punk/alternative bands from the prairie capitol.  And that includes 3-piece Kleins96. I discovered Kleins96 on a Harvest Sampler called “Shredded Wheat, Vol. 1″.  Later, Justin Ludwig, who plays bass and does “hoarse yelps”, sent me their latest, Modern Fortune.  Ludwig’s brother, Dylan, rounds out the percussion section on drums, and Andrew Love takes on the guitar and “singing in key”.  It’s amazing what these three musicians can put out.

Modern Fortune has all the standard elements of modern punk hardcore – wicked fast bass lines, screaming guitars, and screeching vocals.  But the sound here is more than just fury: technically these guys are fast and tight.  It’s a thrill to hear them play.

Like fellow prairie hardcore punks Propagandhi, Kleins96’s songs have politically charged and socially relevant lyrics, screaming at the world with thoughtfulness and candour.  As they put it in the liner notes, they thank their parents for giving them the tools “to threaten by example”: and that’s all here – clear lines drawn about right and wrong, good and bad, war and peace, and everything else.

Opener “Flag or Fist” grabs you immediately on all levels.  Kleins96 make ample use of sample lines from pop culture – in the case of this track, a scary warning about nuclear war (elsewhere, a nature documentary on beavers…).  Fast rolling bass lines, lightning fast drum beats, and screeching guitars showcase a polemic not about war, but about hypocrisy in the modern age:

You’re not the first to read about revolution and dream of communist rule.  The ideal revolution would rid this world of you cheesy idealists.

This is just the start, as the band tears through religious themes (“Occam’s Razor”, “Self-Hating Gay Conservatives”), challenging authority in the form of security cards (“Trojan Whores”), tobacco profits from death (“Role Models”) and much more.  But don’t expect loud hardcore only: like the greatest hardcore bands, Kleins96 excel at shift changes – whether in tempo, sound, or style, there is plenty to hear and enjoy. And there’s a love song: “Priapism”, which starts out as mellow as the band can be but – just in case you’re sleeping – delivers the lover’s desires in hardcore fashion in the last part of the song.

This is not a record for the musical faint of heart: Kleins96’s sound, fury and message are unrelenting, pounding you with purpose over the thunderous beats and fast guitar.  Repeated listens reveal more subtlety and detail, making it apparent that this band has great performers (and likely gives a killer live show).  Underlying all of this is a thoughtful, challenging lyrical sentiment that will stretch your mind as much as the music stretches your soul.  If you’re into hardcore punk, put this on your list.

After a summer tour, and other shows here and there, it looks like the band has just completed a new track and as well as a David Bowie cover.  The band will be touring more in February on the West Coast (with the Rebel Spell), so watch their myspace page for more information.  In the spring, Kleins96 plan to record a couple of tracks (which will likely end up on the next Harvest King Comp, “Shredded Wheat”, a great collection to look out for).  Look for more extensive Canadian tours in the summer.

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